"Data drives every aspect of economic, business and social life," he said in remarks to a meeting of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Combined with a lawless cyberspace, data also fuels the increasingly intertwined world of terror and crime," Guterres added.
"Our counter-terror responses need to stay one step ahead," the UN chief said. "But when it comes to the collection, analysis and strategic use of data, we are several steps behind."
Guterres said the rapidly evolving terrorism threat requires an agile and adaptive response grounded in data and evidence because terrorism takes a sledgehammer to shared values, institutions, norms and standards: human rights, the rule of law, equal and sustainable development and the peace and security that every country and region of the world deserves.
"We need to place data-driven tools and strategies at the heart of our approach to building peace and security, including counter-terrorism efforts," he said.
Guterres said those fighting terrorism need to use data and evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of terrorism prevention activities and policies and ensure that human rights are upheld.
"Combatting terror must never be used as an excuse for trampling on people's human rights," the secretary-general said, adding that when human rights are protected, "we are in fact tackling many of the root causes of terrorism."
And he said terrorism finds its home in vacuums of security, effective political and civic institutions, opportunity and hope and a vacuum of respect for human rights, equality and dignity, especially for minorities and women and girls.
"Every step of the way, we need this Compact and its working groups to continue building close ties to UN member states and other partners to gather, analyze and deploy data for insight, impact and integrity," Guterres said.
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